The final judgments are in and The Tournament of Books winner has been crowned. It was a close match, 11-6, and my vote ended up going to the winner. Go check it out. (And read both of these books, they’re great.)
The 2010 National Book Awards were announced this evening. In fiction, Jaimy Gordon won for The Lord of Misrule; in nonfiction, Patti Smith won for Just Kids; in poetry, Terrance Hayes won for Lighthead; and for young people's literature, Kathryn Erskine won for Mockingbird.
A year after declining to present the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the jurors went ahead and named a winner this year. Perhaps nudged by the North Korea's mad, headline-grabbing sabre-rattling, the award has gone to Adam Johnson's novel of the hermit kingdom, The Orphan Master's Son. Nathan Englander and Eowyn Ivey were the other fiction finalists. Here are this year's Pulitzer winners and finalists with bonus links: Fiction: Winner: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson - (excerpt) What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander (Englander's Year in Reading, excerpt) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey General Nonfiction: Winner: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (The Millions Interview) The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature by David George Haskell (excerpt) History: Winner: Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall (excerpt) The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 by Bernard Bailyn (excerpt) Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History by John Fabian Witt (excerpt) Biography: Winner: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (excerpt) Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece by Michael Gorra (excerpt) The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw (excerpt) Winners and finalists in other categories are available at the Pulitzer Web site.
The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award have been announced in New York City. The award is voted on by critics and considers all books in English (including in translation), no matter the country of origin. The winners in the various categories and some supplementary links: Fiction: Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ben Fountain’s Year in Reading, The Millions interview) Nonfiction: Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Staff Pick, excerpt [pdf]) Autobiography: Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies (The Millions review) Criticism: Marina Warner, Stranger Magic Biography: Robert Caro, The Passage of Power (The Millions review) Poetry: D.A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Poet reading [video]) Previously: The finalists
● ● ●
The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award have been announced in New York City. The award is voted on by critics and considers all books in English (including in translation), no matter the country of origin. The winners in the various categories and some supplementary links: Fiction: Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision (excerpt) Nonfiction: Maya Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War (excerpt) Autobiography: Mira Bartók, The Memory Palace: A Memoir ("The Writer at the Memory Table") Criticism: Geoff Dyer, Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews ("Putting It Together," "The Millions Interview: Geoff Dyer on the London Riots, the Great War, and the Gray Lady") Biography: John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (excerpt) Poetry: Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains Previously: The finalists
After all the talk that America is a literary backwater, it's not terribly surprising that the Nobel Prize went to an international writer. Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio is not a very well known name. In fact, he only has a few of books translated into English that are in print.Wandering Star "tells two discrete stories of two young girls, one Jewish and one Palestinian, who meet once briefly by chance. Their stories are connected by substance, rather than plot. Each is a wandering star in search of a homeland-Esther escaping the Nazi holocaust, and Nejma, who experiences the horrors of life in the camps." The Round and Other Cold Hard Facts is a collection of stories. "Set largely in locations near the French Riviera, these eleven short stories depict the harsh realities of life for the less-privileged inhabitants of this very privileged region." The Prospector (link to more info on the publisher's site): "Haunting and lyrical, this Bildungsroman of the narrator's search for the lost treasure of the Corsair is near-mythic but has realistic details that bolster its plausibility. Set in early 20th-century Mauritius, the story follows the life of a young man who, after the death of his father, tries to restore his family's fortunes by tracking down some buried gold." And The Mexican Dream: Or, The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations, which Booklist described as a "brilliantly conceived analysis of Mexican civilization as a series of 'dreams' that come into conflict is breathtakingly well written, sweeping us away with the intensity and lapidary shimmer of its prose."Judging by the very low (as of this writing) Amazon rankings, Le Clezio hasn't had much of a readership in the US, but this will likely change as publishers rush to get more of his books into print. Books and writers and Wikipedia offer up longer bios of Le Clezio.Update: Another that's been translated and is in print is Onitsha: "Onitsha tells the story of Fintan, a youth who travels to Africa in 1948 with his Italian mother to join the English father he has never met. Fintan is initially enchanted by the exotic world he discovers in Onitsha, a bustling city prominently situated on the eastern bank of the Niger River. But gradually he comes to recognize the intolerance and brutality of the colonial system. His youthful point of view provides the novel with a notably direct, horrified perspective on racism and colonialism."Update 2: The Lit Saloon rounds up excerpts from decades of reviews of Le Clezio's work. Decidedly mixed.
There are plenty of awards for fiction and quite a few for different types of non-fiction, but, according to the people behind the Lettre Ulysses Award, "no world prize for reportage literature existed before 2003." That's when a couple of German foundations got together "to provide symbolic, moral and financial support for reporters whose courage, curiosity, and integrity drives them to create in-depth, well-researched texts, bringing unknown, forgotten, and hidden realities to light. The prize is also intended to publicly honor and highlight the extraordinary achievements of literary reportage." Each year they award a first, second and third prize worth 50,000, 30,000 and 20,000 Euros, respectively. One of the most interesting aspects of this award is its international reach. In the award's first two years, a Somali, a Russian, two Chinese and two Americans have been prizewinners. Indeed this international bent is a part of the award's mission: "By facilitating the translation and publication of texts from often inaccessible places or languages, this project aims to focus attention on diverse topics and issues."This year's award will be announced on October 15th, and the Shortlist looks very interesting:Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq by Riverbend (Iraq)Von den Kriegen: Briefe an Freunde (Of the wars: Letters to friends) by Carolin Emcke (Germany)Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller (Zimbabwe)A Season in Mecca: Narrative of a Pilgrimage by Abdellah Hammoudi (Morocco)The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime by William Langewiesche (USA) (my review)Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (India)Muerte en el Pentagonito: Los cementerios secretos del Ejarcito Peruano (Death in the Pentagonito: The Secret Cemeteries of the Peruvian Army) by Ricardo Uceda (Peru)